Environmentally Friendly Christmas Trees: how to decorate them

So, you’ve sourced your environmentally friendly Christmas tree, and now you’re seeking to decorate it. But all the tinsel and baubles in the shops are full of unsustainable, non-recyclable materials. What’s an eco-minded Christmas enthusiast to do?

Well, there are increasing amounts of more sustainable commercial decorations available. They may take some hunting out, but it’s worth it! However, if you’d like to combine sustainable decorating with creativity, craftiness, and fun family activity, why not try making your own? Here are some sustainable Christmas tree craft ideas which you can try out with all the family:

  • Collect materials from the outdoors. We’re not saying that you should strip your local woodlands bare. But a bit of foraging for natural materials isn’t going to hurt. With a good eye, some basic art and crafts supplies, and a bit of creativity, you can make some seriously charming decorations from things like pine cones, conkers, pressed leaves, and even twigs! As a general rule when foraging for decorations, don’t cut or pick anything that’s still growing, and don’t take more than you need.
  • Experiment with origami. You would be amazed at what you can do with a simple piece of paper! Origami Christmas decorations don’t just look great, they’re also a brilliant family activity which will keep the kids quiet for ages. Plus, there’s a huge range of things you can make using origami. Different styles, different papers, different shapes…the potential is endless! Just be careful to choose recycled and/or recyclable paper.
  • Play around with salt dough. We all did this as kids, usually in primary school. Salt, flour, and water make a simple and versatile dough which is easy to mould, bake, and paint into Christmassy shapes. You probably remember the clunky ornaments you made from this mixture when you were five, and which your parents religiously hung on the tree every year until they fell apart. But, with a bit of practice, it’s possible to make much more elegant and accomplished decorations than your primary school self could manage!
  • Get inventive with recycled materials. The most obvious way to do this is to shop for recycled materials either when buying pre-made decorations or when seeking materials to make your own. But you could also recycle the odds and ends you have around your house into quirky and inventive tree decorations. For example, you could break up old CDs and use them with salt dough (see above) to make beautiful sparkly baubles. Scraps of old ribbon can be used to hang decorations. Old Christmas cards and magazine pages can be turned into wreaths. Honestly, once you get started, it’s astonishing what you can do with the bits and bobs you’d otherwise overlook!

It’s also worth mentioning that you can really improve your Christmas tree’s carbon footprint by being smart about lights. Christmas tree lights often feel like the icing on the cake (so to speak), but they come at a cost to both your electricity bill and the environment. Leaving standard tree lights on for 8+ hours a day (as many of us do) has a staggering Co2 footprint. You can reduce this footprint by opting for lower energy LED lights, and by switching your tree lights off when nobody is there to see them. If you like to decorate the outside of your house as well, consider using solar powered lights which will charge up during the day and come on when it gets dark. Modern solar powered fairy lights are very effective!

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